If you’ve heard of social monitoring (a way to monitor what's being said about your business across the internet), you’ll find social listening to be very similar. These two tactics work best when used together, but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. While social monitoring identifies and responds to brand mentions, social listening collects those insights and makes decisions to better your business.
Let’s break this down into something we all know and love: pizza!
Let’s say you own a pizza restaurant, and you source your toppings from a bunch of different vendors. A customer comes in on Friday, orders the pepperoni pizza, and complains that it tastes too salty, so you give them a refund. This is monitoring. Your customer came to you with a problem, and you promptly addressed it.
Another customer comes in the following Friday, also orders the pepperoni pizza, and complains that it’s too greasy. So you give them a refund, too. You continue hearing these complaints throughout the month. From here, you contact your pepperoni vendor to express your concern and find a solution to the problem. This is listening. You analyzed a trend in your customers’ feedback and addressed the issue before you started losing business.
Now that we’re clear on how social listening works (no hard feelings, pepperoni. We love you.), let’s dive into five ways you can use it to improve your business.
1. Learn how people perceive your brand.
Use social listening to understand how your audience perceives your brand. Take it a step further by monitoring what they say about your competitors. From here, you can see what you’re doing right – or what they’re doing better – and continuously build your strategy based on those insights.
2. Be the first to address pain points in your industry
Analyze your audience’s pain points, and use them to improve your own products and services. Are people having issues with a competitor’s site search? Take that opportunity to improve your own. When your audience acknowledges you taking action, you’re positioned as an industry leader.
3. Generate ideas for new marketing campaigns
Nike’s “Find Your Greatness” campaign may have been launched for the 2012 London Olympics, but it was inspired by everyday athletes. Knowing that these people make up a large portion of their target audience, this campaign set out to encourage them to “achieve their own defining moment of greatness.”
4. Improve the customer experience
As your company grows, it becomes harder to address each and every one of your audience’s concerns. This is where social listening can play a major role. By monitoring your audience’s feedback over an extended period of time, you can begin identifying trends in their concerns. Address them holistically so they know you’re listening.
5. Generate leads and develop relationships
Combine all of the above, and you’re on the road to building and maintaining a loyal follower base. Among those followers are qualified leads that can be nurtured into relationships. Make your audience a priority, and turn your brand into the best resource when it comes to making a purchase decision.